How to Keep Score in Golf Games

By Bill Herrfeldt

golfer hitting into sunset
If you think the only thing that's important about keeping a golf score is writing down the results of each hole, you've only scratched the surface. For example, you must know how to handle each player's handicap, how to retrieve scores after each hole, and how to score the game if you are playing match or medal play. There's a lot for a novice to learn about score-keeping, but soon it will become just another aspect of the game.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
  1. Learn how most golf scorecards are constructed. Most of them have four spaces, one for each player's name. The yardage of each hole is given along with numbers reflecting the difficulty of each hole. Par for each hole is also given as well as the total par for both nines and the entire eighteen holes. At the bottom of each card is usually a line where you can keep a running total of the differences, whether you are playing match or medal. Match play is when the person/team with the lower score on a hole wins it, and medal play is based on the cumulative total of shots taken for the number of holes played.
  2. Make note of each player's handicap on the scorecard. There are two ways this can be done. Either you take the handicap of the best player and reduce the handicaps of the others by that number, or you can simply record their handicaps, as is, on the scorecard. Then make a notation of the holes, based on their degree of difficulty as talked about earlier, where each player is to get shots.
  3. Ask each player what he had after he finishes a hole, then write that on the scorecard. Etiquette suggests that if only two of you are playing, each of you should keep the score of the other. At the end of the round, look over the card to make sure the other player wrote down your correct score for each hole and the total number of strokes you took for the round.
  4. Tally the scores for each player for each nine holes you play and for the entire eighteen holes. You may be responsible for determining the outcome of any competition that was agreed upon before the beginning of the round. Be accurate with your scoring to avoid any controversy after the round.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.